31 August 2012

Feline Friday: Miss Picky

Ah, the joys of dealing with a picky eater. Over the years, Tinsel has tired of her food from time to time. When dinner is served, she takes one look at it, puts her nose in the air and walks away. We're in that frustrating phase right now. In addition to her finickiness, she's very skittish when it comes to eating -- always fearful that Lily is lurking around the corner (she sometimes is) ready to steal her food (she always will).

Tinsel is a senior cat and also has a blood abnormality. It's important for her to eat well because it could be difficult for her to fight off an illness. So it's not an option to just wait until she gets hungry enough to eat. I need to do everything I can to be sure she's getting enough NOMS.

Getting Tinsel to eat can take a bit of cajoling. Some might say she's a bit of a princess when it comes to dining. CONDITIONS MUST BE EXACTLY RIGHT. Here's what must happen in order for Tinsel to eat:

 -- Shut Lily in the basement.
-- Make no sudden moves! 
No noise -- no drumming, no loud TV or music.
-- Put the food on the carpet. Trust me, Tinsel will not eat on the wood or tile floor. Comfort is a must! :)
-- Provide two types of food to choose from (depending on the day, she'll prefer one over the other).
-- Pour fresh food onto the plate at each meal.
-- Canned food? Yes, she'll have it. But only salmon, please.
-- This is a new one: ELEVATE the plates so she doesn't have to bend over as far.

Bless her heart. Tinsel has issues, but don't we all?

28 August 2012

2012 Sheep Fashion Report: Embracing Change

If you've read my blog, you probably know that I spend a good deal of time at the Iowa State Fair each year. As I especially enjoy seeing the animals, I began to notice a few years back that the sheep often sport outfits. Presumably this is to keep their wool clean, but I REALLY think it's because the sheep like to look fashionable. So I've developed a bit of an interest in tracking Sheep Fashions. (Read a past post here.) It's interesting to see how trends have come and gone over the past years. 

My all-time favorite choice for sheep outerwear is Spandex. Unfortunately, there wasn't much of it to be seen in the barns this year. I had a hunch last year that Sheep Spandex was on the way OUT, so I asked a farmer about it. Turns out it's somewhat difficult to poke a sheep's legs into a Spandex sleeve (the technical word is "tube"), no matter how cute the pattern. *sigh* Change is hard for me.

Here's one of the few sheep I saw this year sporting Spandex. What a beautiful sight.

Here's further evidence that Sheep Spandex is no longer fashionable: A few sheep were dressed in threadbare Spandex, obviously hand-me-downs (no pun intended). This poor sheep in a delicate flower print was so embarrassed about her appearance that she wouldn't even look at the camera.

As it turns out, some hand-me-down Spandex made its way to the GOATS -- and they're not happy about it, either. (Goats, I've determined after careful study, are almost the same as sheep, just with longer ears.) I found this trio of goats reluctantly sporting last season's Sheep Spandex.

Even this Iowa Hawkeye goat was mortified to be seen in a torn suit.

So with Sheep Spandex on the way out, what's new in 2012 Sheep Fashions?

My first observation (and this is an unfortunate continuing trend from recent years) is that the Sheep Cloak appears to be here to stay. Much like baggy jeans, the cloak does NOTHING to enhance the sheep's appearance. And the optional head covering makes it really hard for the sheep to see her neighbors, let alone look attractive in pictures.

While Sheep Spandex leaves nothing to the imagination, the shapeless Sheep Cloaks reveal nothing. Really, it could be just about ANYTHING under that canvas tarp.

And clearly the once fashionable sheep do not enjoy this new trend, thrust upon them by farmers who obviously value practicality over fashion. This poor sheep tucked her head in shame.

Most sheep looked downright depressed to be wearing such garb.

Fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope! 

 Although it pains me to admit it, hope has come in the form of a cowl neck. I despised cowl necks back in the 70's and now that they're back in style, I still don't like them. But if cowl necks will help my friends in the sheep barn, sign me up.


The Sheep Cowl is available in solid colors, prints, and all sorts of interesting combinations. Sometimes the print is only on the cowl neck...

...and sometimes it's on the garment body. As any sheep will tell you, the eye is drawn to the part of the body sporting the print.

Some Sheep Cowls are reversible to allow the sheep to sport different looks for different occasions. Perhaps these sheep could roll up or down their cowls for a different look at the upcoming Clay County Fair.
Sheep Cowls are also available in bright, vibrant colors.

But most sheep appear to wearing solid colors with reversible patterned cowl necks. And for everyday wear, this does seem to be the most sensible option.

Hip-hop look:

Earth Day look:

This year, I also noticed a new phenomenon: The Sheep Train. It seems that sheep like to connect with each other in head to tail fashion. Regardless of what they're wearing, it's pretty darn cute.

Thanks for checking out my 2012 Sheep Fashion Report. I wonder what new trends next year will bring!


24 August 2012

Feline Friday

My new table is working great -- and there's even room for Tinsel, my crafting companion!

22 August 2012

Craft Room/Office Space: Table Update

I've been using my "new" craft room/office space for a few weeks now and I have to say I LOVE it! Wish I would have changed things years ago. I still have a few small things to do here and there, but by and large it is functioning well for me.

One of the things which needed to be changed was the white paper in this small glass-topped table. I like tan and white together, but the white paper was too stark. I couldn't find paper in the right size to fit it, so I ended up cutting kraft paper from a roll I had in my wrapping paper stash. It worked great and now the table blends in much better with the room. I realize some people will might have preferred the white but trust me, the white really stood out -- and not in a good way!

I  have my stamping stuff set up on this table (obviously not shown in the lower picture), as I wanted a space just for that.  I'm still on the lookout for a metal stool to go with the table, as well as nice desk chair. Otherwise, the space is nearly complete!

Thanks for following my progress!


18 August 2012

Iowa State Fair - Part 1

Ever since I was a little girl, the month of August has been synonymous with the Iowa State Fair. My parents and I camped at the fair from when I was just a baby until my college years, then they began camping again after Bailey was born. When you spend as much time at the fair as I have, you begin to feel like it's a second home. It's one of the few places where I actually know my way around!

 When we lost my mom back in 2008, it became very difficult for me to go to to the fair. So many of my memories of the fair were caught up with memories of my mom that it was painful to be there without her. It's taken a few years for me to start to enjoy the fair again, but my mom loved the fair and would want us to get out there and enjoy it, so that's what I try to do.

One of the best ways for me to stay focused during fair time is to take LOTS of pictures...yes, even those I've taken in years past. I especially enjoy taking pictures at the Agriculture Building, one of my favorite places at the fair. I'm not a vegetable gardener, but there is something about this building that makes me think that I COULD be.

We were concerned that the drought would affect the crops, but (with the exception of apples and other tree fruits) the competition was just as rigorous as usual.

 Could these vegetables be any more beautiful?

In the Agriculture Building, you'll also find our world-famous butter cow sculpture.

 This year, there's the butter cow...

 ...and a butter Snow White and Seven Dwarfs!

On the grounds of the Agriculture Building, you'll find the Big Pumpkin contest entries. This year I believe there were nine ginormous pumpkins. Can you imagine growing this in your backyard? It takes a lot of work to grow a pumpkin worthy of this contest!

Behind the Agriculture Building is my other favorite area at the fair, the Discovery Garden. Planted by local Master Gardener clubs, the grounds are absolutely packed with beautiful flowers in many different themes. I remember when this area was nothing more than dirt and trampled grass!

Here's a fairy garden planted in a bird bath. After watching a presentation on fairy gardens at the fair this year, I think I might like to make one someday.

 I love how this blue chair has found a new purpose as a trellis.

Click on the college for a closer look at some of the garden areas near the Agriculture Building.

Watch for more fair posts in the days to come, including my annual Sheep Fashions report!

17 August 2012

Feline Friday

 Lily squeezed her plump body into the Itso Small Bin, hoping to stow away to Indiana unnoticed.

16 August 2012

Back to School!

 As you may have guessed from the recent absence of blog entries, things have been hopping around here! I've been busy making kits, teaching classes, planning new classes, and spending time at the great Iowa State Fair. But the most exciting thing we've done lately was move Bailey into her new apartment at Indiana University!

  She left a few days early to go watch the drum corps finals in Indianapolis with her dad. My dad and I left over the weekend with the remainder of her stuff, then we all met up in Bloomington on Sunday to help her move in. We were there for less than 24 hours, then it was back home!

 Bailey and her great roommate Molly will be living in on-campus apartments which are only a couple of years old. They are really nice and very conveniently located, although a bit farther from the music buildings than her previous dorm.

  No move-in trip would be complete without a stop at the local Target, which apparently stocks more back-to-college merchandise than any Target anywhere. It's really quite amazing! Need a plastic tote?

 How about a set of stacking drawers?

 Back in the apartment, we unloaded everything and got to work. The living room arrangement changed at least 100 times while we were there. I'm not sure I have a photo of how it ended up!

 Her bedroom also changed configurations numerous times. Bailey is pretty excited to have a keyboard with her this year. Although it takes up a fair amount of wall space, it will be very helpful to have for her classes.

Bailey and Molly were both lucky to have a LOT of closet storage in their dorm rooms last year. In this apartment, there are no closets except a wardrobe in each bedroom. On the plus side, there are lots of roomy drawers. 

    This is the view from Bailey's room. As you can see, there are several buildings in this complex. As you can also see, Indiana is suffering from a severe drought, with conditions even worse than in Iowa. The newly planted trees are suffering. :(

 Bailey and I made a trip to Bath & Body Works a couple of weeks ago and stocked up on good-smelling soap for the kitchen and bathroom. With our numerous coupons and gift cards, we got a good deal. A really good deal!

 Grandpa wanted to help, so Bailey put him to work hanging up her clothes. Her hangers all have to go the same direction, and (of course) her clothes hang in rainbow-color order. *sigh* The apple doesn't fall far from the tree! :)

 The kitchen is very nice! This photo was taken while the girls were organizing everything, so I'm sure it looks a little more pulled together now! On top of the fridge you can see Bailey's Winnie the Pooh lunch box which she carried to elementary school for many years. I guess it's true that college students regress a bit! :)

 This is the sink area in the bathroom as they were getting set up. There is a separate room with a shower. Molly and Bailey picked out a fun shower curtain from the kids' section at Target, further evidence of that regression thing!

  And there is a laundry area right in the apartment! We certainly didn't have that in our first place. They are very fortunate!

While we were in town, I went with the girls to the grocery store to pick up a few basic kitchen supplies. What a fun trip! While both girls can cook, buying essentials to stock a kitchen was a new experience. I hung back and let them try to figure things out. "I don't know what to do!" a bewildered Bailey said while trying to figure out what to buy. I certainly know that feeling! That thought crosses my mind nearly every time I'm in the grocery store!

On future shopping trips, they'll re-stock the basics and look for specific recipe ingredients, so buying groceries should get a bit easier!

After finishing up a few things on Monday, it was time for us to leave our girl and head back home. It was such a treat to help her move into her first apartment! We're very excited for all that this school year will bring. We wish both girls the best!

Welcome to your new home away from home, Bailey! We are very proud of you!